On Saturday, the Missouri Tigers (1-0) parlayed a 3-0 turnover margin, a 100-yard Marcus Murphy kickoff return, and 3 Maty Mauk TD passes into a 38-18 win over the tough-minded South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (0-1).
“First of all, I think (South Dakota State) played really well,” said Missouri head Coach Gary Pinkel, following his team’s season-opening win. “Their back-up quarterback came in and did a good job. I think they did some really good things, and I was impressed with how they battled when they could’ve, you know, kind of backed off a little bit a couple of times.”
Mauk finished 13-21-0 (62%) for 178 yards (8.5 yards/attempt) and 3 TDs for a passer rating of 180.25. Russell Hansbrough rushed for 126 yards and 1 TD on 20 carries, and Murphy played a big role for the Tigers with 204 all-purpose yards on 17 total touches.
“I told the entire team, first of all, great win,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Secondly, you know, we’ve got to feel the urgency, if we want to do the things we want to do, we’ve got to feel the urgency to get better. And, that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Missouri scored on their first possession when Maty Mauk found Darius White behind the defense down the middle on a post route for a 44-yard TD reception.
South Dakota State came right back and scored on a broken play when senior QB Austin Sumner mishandled the shotgun snap and senior RB Zach Zenner corralled the snap and raced 75 yards for the score.
Missouri regained the lead when Mauk found White again, this time for a 39-yard TD reception in the back right corner of the end zone.
Missouri came up with a takeaway for the 45th straight game when Duron Singleton came up with a deflected ball for an interception and returned it to the South Dakota State 10-yard line.
Russell Hansbrough took the hand-off and reversed field, reaching the left front pylon to extend Missouri’s 1st-quarter lead to 21-7.
But the rest of the first half belonged to the Jacks, as the Tigers committed a series of errors, including a running into the punter penalty that set up a 39-yard, 2nd-quarter field goal to complete the 1st half scoring.
However, Sumner had injured his ankle, and Head Coach John Stiegelmeier had to go with his back-up QB, Zach Lujan.
The Jacks took the opening 2nd half kickoff, and Lujan engineered a 10-play 75-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard TD run by Zenner, who took the shotgun snap in the Wildcat formation. Then, Lujan found senior WR Jason Schneider on the fade for the 2-point conversion, and South Dakota State had cut the Missouri lead to 21-18.
But Marcus Murphy took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the end zone to extend the Tigers’ lead to 28-18.
“That return was something we really needed,” said Coach Pinkel.
Lujan hooked up with Schneider for a pair of receptions to drive the Jacks back into scoring position, before Aarion Penton pulled down an interception in the end zone to thwart the South Dakota State scoring opportunity.
In the 4th quarter, Missouri built on their lead when Mauk found Bud Sasser in the back left corner of the end zone for 29 yards and a score. Sasser made a nice reception, high-pointing the ball for a contested catch.
Missouri finished off their scoring as Andrew Baggett, who earlier had missed a pair of field goal attempts, banged one through from 44 yards out.
“We had trouble converting third downs, and on defense, we had trouble getting off the field,” said Coach Pinkel. “The combination of both is not very good. So, we had to battle back and forth. Hopefully, we can learn, and become a better football team.”